My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” – My 2003 Business Plan & Financial Projection for EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE


After I was divorced in the early 1990s, I ended up living in a small apartment in Hollywood, near La Brea and Franklin, three blocks from the Chinese Theater. I scrambled to make a living, to be creative, to make movies.

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The USA long ago outgrew the two party system.


We need to make our system more accessible to legitimately competitive political parties. (The “third-party” concept that we have today is universally acknowledged as ineffective, merely “a statement” to be made.) Our current political malaise is the result of trying to shoehorn the realities of diversity and prejudice in the USA into only two ages-old prominent parties. Continue reading

The Internet needs to be free. [UPDATED APRIL 23 2014]


FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld

FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld

THE INTERNET NEEDS TO BE FREE

Yes, free.

That’s not a statement about pricing, it’s a statement about democracy.

This is what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.”

The following blog post keeps evolving since its original posting in 2010, because the concept of “Net Neutrality” (or the attempt at a more popular term, “The Open Internet“) is vibrant.

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 23, 2014

Breaking news:

I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the many independent online film distribution companies who offer streaming and downloading of independent movies. The F.C.C., in a complete turn-around on the principles of Net Neutrality, just announced that they are abandoning the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose. The F.C.C. plans to allow Comcast, Verizon FiOS, etc., to negotiate separately with each content company – the BIG, WEALTHY, EXCLUSIVE companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google – to have them pay for good video delivery.

Aside from the democracy of the Internet, that does not look good for the competition of small distributors, nor for indie filmmakers themselves, whose voice will not be allowed on those company’s libraries of titles.

See “F.C.C., in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane

This subject is currently getting louder. By the end of March, 2014, it heated up in a war of words.
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Equity Crowdfunding is dead for us. What’s next?


DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson

DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson


If you remember that there once was a glimmer of hope for more sustainable financing for innovative small business (and, for my concern, an indie film industry) through “Equity Crowdfunding” as demanded by the JOBS Act of 2012, the fact is that it’s not going to happen. It’s already far past the Act’s imposed deadlines because the concept is anathema to the entrenched and self-interested bureaucracy.
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Crippling Digital Distribution for Indie Filmmakers: the Death of Net Neutrality


BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla


On my way to Sundance Film Festival 2014, news broke (see “Federal appeals court strikes down rules protecting net neutrality” at http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-net-neutrality-federal-appeals-court-20140114,0,2138188.story#ixzz2qlsuWDSC) that made two problems painfully clear, and they will have a huge impact on filmmakers:
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The independent filmmaking industry needs a new relationship with investors [UPDATED]


LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla


Prolific indie film producer Ted Hope, who spent the past year as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (as of June 2015, a Production Executive at AMAZON STUDIOS), recently posted “Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Accessing Quality Projects” as a call to build a healthy independent filmmaking industry. As always, he makes an astute and excellent comment about the big picture of indie filmmaking. We engaged in a conversation, and here’s my comment about the industry and investors: Continue reading

From the Ivey Business Review: “Arrested Economics — Assessing Netflix’s Original Content Business”


Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the second of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Arrested Development and House of Cards aren’t designed to deliver the metrics Wall Street expects, and this means a lot about how Netflix views its future.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted June 9, 2013)

A Netflix New Season: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

May 26th was a uniquely exciting (and perhaps exhausting) day for TV lovers. At midnight, Netflix released a brand new season of Arrested Development – more than seven years after the show was cancelled by Fox. The show’s return represents a key component of Netflix’s emerging original content strategy and is the fourth show released by the over-the-top streaming service this year (at a total cost of more than $150M). As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pause and evaluate the economics of this strategy and hypothesize what success might look like. In doing so, we can also better understand the role of original content (is it intended to drive net adds, reduce churn, stabilize content costs etc.) and the impact of their controversial decision to release entire seasons at once. This will also tell us about Netflix’s future and management’s POV on this future.

The Value of Netflix to the Consumer

Though inexpensive on the whole, Netflix’s service does not offer materially cheaper entertainment than that of traditional cable TV, costing approximately $0.0024/minute versus cable’s $0.0035/minute. alt="NFLX3"

This is interesting for two reasons

1. Despite being commercial-free and infinitely more flexible than live linear TV (in terms of time, content and screen), Netflix is unable to command a price premium for its entertainment service

2. Average time spent watching Netflix per user is up more than 10% year-over-year. However, with prices still $7.99 a month, Netflix has not benefited from this increase in customer value (directly, at least, as it would improve word-of-mouth and perceived value). Increases in both the quality and size of its content library content quality is no doubt a major driver for increased usage, but this has contributed to a 16% increase in quarterly licensing costs ($1.355B in Q1 2013).

This matters because it means Netflix may have limited means to raise prices – and when it does, they will still lag customer value growth. As the instant decapitation of Qwickster demonstrated (among many other lessons), Netflix’s customers really do control the relationship.

MORE … click here to continue reading.

From the Ivey Business Review: “Original TV Series — The Illusory ‘Silver Bullet'”


Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the first of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon see original TV series as the path to success. It’s not. But consumers win.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted April 30, 2013)

A Netflix Original Series: HOUSE of CARDS

It is a great time to be a lover of television. Content, for one, has never been better. Not only have many declared today the “New Golden Age of Television”, some such as Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott, have gone as far to ask questions such as if “anyone thinks The Artist (which had recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture) is better than Mad Men?”. The rise of digital distribution and portable, media-focused devices has also fundamentally increased potential “demand” for this content. The ability to watch content whenever (and wherever) we want means that we can watch more shows than was realistically possible when we were tethered to 2-3 hours of “appointment TV” per night (and we could watch only one show per primetime slot). Not only does this save older shows, such as The Sopranos, from irrelevancy after airing, it opens up the creative medium. Hyper-serialized shows such as LOST and Game of Thrones would not be possible without the ability for viewers to easily catch-up on a missed episode (or “marathon” past seasons). Digital-only distribution (such as Netflix’s House of Cards) has further freed creatives to pick scene lengths or runtimes based on the needs of the story, rather than the need to cut to a commercial break every 4-7 minutes or fill out an hour-long timeslot.

Market behavior clearly illustrates the New Golden Age hypothesis. Movie stars are increasingly moving to the TV screen (from Ewan McGregor or Zooey Deschanel) and many TV stars are bigger celebrities than most movie actors (such as Kim Kardashian, regrettably). TV budgets have also exploded. Game of Thrones costs upwards of $60 million for a 10-episode season and many hour-long dramas at the Big Four broadcasters can cost $40-75 million per season ($2-4M/episode). Content has also become an increasingly important differentiator for cable networks such as HBO and AMC, which traditionally focused on films and one-off specials, but are now defined by and dependent on hits such as Girls and The Walking Dead.

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Crowdfunding and “Hey Zach Braff STFU and pay for your own movie” [UPDATED January 2014]


STFU ZACH BRAFF

STFU ZACH BRAFF

Why is there controversy about projects such as Rob Thomas‘s VERONICA MARS and Zach Braff‘s WISH I WAS HERE going to crowdfunding for the money to make their projects?

The surge in Perks-based Donor Crowdfunding over the past few years was primarily built on the concept that creative projects dreamed up by common folks with more ideas than money could go to each other rather than impenetrable banks or brokerages. The popular site Kickstarter (one of many) started in 2009 with the premise that such ideas, ones that were still good ideas even though they didn’t have a promise of likely profitability, could be brought to the public to allow the average person to help make the ideas into reality by donating money. This is a broad concept akin to what wealthy benefactors would do in ages past, when they became “patrons of the arts” by providing money so artists could create works of art.

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THIS IS THE SECOND ‘GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION.’


When looking at what I’ve termed “The Blended Screens” — the destruction of all the different ways that used to define what we were watching (it was a “movie” because it was shot on film and shown in a movie theater; it was a “TV Show” because it was shot on tape and broadcast by a TV station; it was “Home Video” because it was burned to VHS tape or DVD or Blu-Ray and shown on a machine in the living room; it was a “Web Series” because it was carried over the Internet and watched on a computer; etc., etc., etc.) — it becomes clear to me that THIS IS THE SECOND ‘GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION.’ Continue reading

“Story-making”


Production is morphing into … what? Is it “filmmaking” if there’s no film? Are we “taping” a program if there’s no tape? Are they “films” or “movies” it they are viewed on a smartphone? Is it “Television” if it’s streaming online on demand?

The technology of production and the delivery methods are no longer pertinent to defining what creators do. We create. We no longer create things clearly defined as “TV shows” or “Movies” or “Web Series.” What we create is now going out on all of “The Blended Screens.” Some have called it “content” but I think that term is weak and too broad.

For me, I’ve decided it’s all “story-making” and that’s what I choose from now on.

MICHAEL R BARNARD PRODUCTIONS logo

MICHAEL R BARNARD PRODUCTIONS logo

 

The JOBS Act of April 2012 is a Failure for America.


THIS IS A MAJOR JOBS PROBLEM AND NEEDS OUR ATTENTION:

America needs good jobs. Joblessness and low-wage jobs have crippled the survival and prosperity of millions of Americans, and are a drag on our entire economy.

The promise of the JOBS Act, signed into law a year ago and supported by the most bi-partisanship effort in recent history, is DEAD because the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has failed to enact it.

The JOBS Act established a deadline of Wednesday, July 4, 2012, for the SEC to promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of TITLE II—ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR JOB CREATORS (commonly referred to as the “general solicitation rule“). The SEC missed that deadline. The agency did publish proposed rules for TITLE II on August 29, 2012, but has not implemented them. There is no anticipated date for finalizing the rules for Title II of the JOBS Act.

The JOBS Act established a deadline of Monday, December 31, 2012 for the SEC to promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of TITLE III—CROWDFUND (commonly referred to as “Equity Crowdfunding“). The SEC missed the deadline, and has no anticipated date for the rulemaking to implement TITLE III.

AMERICA NEEDS JOBS! Hope from the JOBS Act of 2012 has been *crushed* by the SEC’s inaction and dismissal of the JOBS Act!

 

FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 1


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FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 1 of 2

Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard

Written by Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard is a writer and filmmaker who has been researching the American JOBS Act since it was first proposed. Barnard is currently working on creating an independent feature film, A FATHER AND SON. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of the historical novel NATE AND KELLY. Find him on Twitter at @mrbarnard1, Facebook at michael.barnard and LinkedIn at michaelrbarnard.

This article is an overview and observation, not legal advice.

 

SUMMARY: The independent film industry in America is not enjoying the growth that would be expected from the surge in the quantity of indie movies being made. The American JOBS Act, passed in April 2012, offers hope to reinvigorate the independent film industry.

 

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FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 2


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FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 2 of 2

Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard

Written by Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard is a writer and filmmaker who has been researching the American JOBS Act since it was first proposed. Barnard is currently working on creating an independent feature film, A FATHER AND SON. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of the historical novel NATE AND KELLY. Find him on Twitter at @mrbarnard1, Facebook at michael.barnard and LinkedIn at michaelrbarnard.

This article is an overview and observation, not legal advice.

 

SUMMARY: The independent film industry in America is not enjoying the growth that would be expected from the surge in the quantity of indie movies being made. The American JOBS Act, passed in April 2012, offers hope to reinvigorate the independent film industry.

 

           In Part 1, we discussed the reasons behind the difficulty raising equity investment. Continue reading

THE UNIVERSAL FILM ACCESS POINT


How will independent filmmakers fully embrace digital distribution for maximum value? It’s a new world, and the old methods cannot be squeezed and twisted to work in it. There will be a new approach to bringing indie films to the audience.

Old Movie Theater

Old Movie Theater

I call it the UNIVERSAL FILM ACCESS POINT.
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President Obama signs JOBS ACT; its Equity Crowdfunding may rebuild indie film biz.


Written by Michael R. Barnard for ReelGrok.com “Where Filmmakers Get It!”

ReelGrok.com "Where Filmmakers Get It"

ReelGrok.com “Where Filmmakers Get It”


President Obama  signed the JOBS ACT into law on April 5th, 2012. Called the ‘‘Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act,’’ the goal is to increase American job creation and economic growth by improving access to the public capital markets for emerging growth companies. It will make it easier for small businesses to raise money so they can create jobs and rebuild the American economy by amending the Securities Act of 1933. It can have a profound impact on the independent filmmaking industry.

President Obama said, “We are a nation of doers. We think big. We take risks.  This is a country that’s always been on the cutting edge. The reason is, America has always had the most daring entrepreneurs. When their businesses take off, more people get employed.”

That’s a boost the independent filmmaking industry needs. “I think we’ll see the $1 million range and down to $100,000 or so flourish with this new model,” says entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark.

The American Jobs Act

The American Jobs Act

READ MORE AT REELGROK.COM “WHERE FILMMAKERS GET IT”
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Our chance to rebuild the independent film industry.


FILMMAKERS, this is very important:

WHAT CONGRESS DID
The house has passed the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act which offers a tremendous opportunity to rebuild the independent film industry. The Act is designed to allow businesses to raise capital through crowdfunding. Under current securities laws, filmmakers can only ask for donations, and donors support the film without any participation in its potential profit.
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How to Start Writing a Screenplay


TYPEWRITER Photo by Florian Klauer

Photo by Florian Klauer

There are a lot of screenwriting gurus. That’s because there are so many people who want to write screenplays and are scared to death about doing it wrong. It seems that, for every 100 people who are afraid of the number of brads that must be in a script (two), the typeface that must be used (Courier 11 or 12), the right software (FINAL DRAFT for $$, CELTX for free), and every other element that they think is the key to the magic kingdom of screenwriting success, there are at least a couple gurus who have all the answers.

That’s all good, but it seems to me, from the comments I always hear from people who want to start writing screenplays, the ‘take-away’ is always wrong. The wrong “rules” are assumed to be the most important.
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Movie Industry Slouches Toward Digital Future


Republished with permission from eMarketer.com

The past few years have been bruising for the movie industry. After more than a decade of growth, the DVD began stalling in 2007. For the first time in its history, the industry saw its primary revenue source shrink without a new format coming along to take its place in the driver’s seat.

Logically, Blu-ray and digital formats should have stepped in to fill the revenue gap, but this has not happened. And at least two forecasts suggest it will be at least five years before these formats can lift Hollywood out of its doldrums.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Crowdfunding reveals vibrant new class of citizen funding.


Crowdfunding has great promise. And, it has exposed a vibrant new class of citizen funding.

In the spring of 2010, in comments on Jeff Steele’s Film Closings blog at http://filmclosings.com/2010/04/new-method-indie-financing/, I publicly assessed crowdfunding as having the potential to generate a normal maximum of, say, $5,000 if one spent all one’s time on it. Then, that leapt forward to the potential normal maximum of $15,000 to $20,000. Now, this year, there have been reports of reasonable numbers of fundraisings over $50,000. This is merely an anecdotal assessment, but those are numbers I now see reported.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Further Clarification of the PMD and Economics, by Jon Reiss


REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION

“This from the man himself, Jon Reiss, in response to the many wonderful posts this week from Michael R. Barnard, Lucas McNelly and Dennis Peters regarding the PMD.” ~ Sheri Candler Marketing & Publicity

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